TO CO­OP­ER­ATE OR COM­PETE: HOW ARE YOU UTIL­IS­ING THE POWER OF STRATE­GIC AL­LIANCES?

Cus­tomers are the big win­ners when chan­nel part­ners work to­gether

Channel Middle East - - Editor’s Notes -

When busi­nesses are look­ing to grow with­out go­ing the merger and ac­qui­si­tion route, they com­monly look at one of four strate­gies: mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion, mar­ket de­vel­op­ment, prod­uct de­vel­op­ment or di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion. It makes sense that ex­pend­ing into new mar­kets, in­creas­ing prof­itabil­ity of cus­tomers you al­ready have, de­vel­op­ing new prod­ucts or mov­ing into a whole new line of busi­ness would all be good ways to in­crease your bot­tom line.

But there’s an­other growth strat­egy that is fre­quently over­looked even though it’s of­ten a win for the cus­tomer: coope­ti­tion.

But what is “coope­ti­tion” and how can it help your part­ner busi­ness to grow and bot­tom line?

“Coope­ti­tion” com­bines “com­pe­ti­tion” and “co­op­er­a­tion” into one idea. It may seem that th­ese two con­cepts are di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed, but in fact, com­peti­tors can of­ten ben­e­fit from co­op­er­at­ing with one an­other strate­gi­cally. Do­ing so, how­ever, re­quires creative think­ing.

Far too of­ten in the chan­nel, re­sellers look at oth­ers in our in­dus­try as en­e­mies against whom we must bat­tle for cus­tomers, ter­ri­tory and

mar­ket share.

But when they think of com­pe­ti­tion this way, they may be sell­ing them­selves and their cus­tomers short. Af­ter all, while com­pa­nies in an in­dus­try might be sim­i­lar, they typ­i­cally serve dif­fer­ent cus­tomers and have dif­fer­ent strengths and weak­nesses. This can leave gaps be­tween the prod­uct or ser­vice they of­fer, and the needs of the cus­tomer.

Coope­ti­tion in my view elim­i­nates th­ese gaps. Coope­ti­tion looks ver­ti­cally at a mar­ket and recog­nises that com­peti­tors can also be a sup­pli­ers, as in the case of Mi­crosoft and

In­tel with their “Win­tel” ap­proach. It looks hor­i­zon­tally at mar­kets as well, recog­nis­ing that a com­pany might have good mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion in one re­gion, while not in an­other.

Coope­ti­tion recog­nises th­ese kinds of dif­fer­ences as op­por­tu­ni­ties for or­gan­i­sa­tions to com­ple­ment one an­other, rather than com­pete. This ap­proach trans­forms dif­fer­ences into growth op­por­tu­ni­ties for both par­ties. Com­peti­tors then be­come col­lab­o­ra­tors, de­vel­op­ing joint so­lu­tions that more com­pletely ful­fil the cus­tomer’s need.

When only one chan­nel part­ner can win, cus­tomers lose. Coope­ti­tion, on the other hand, cre­ates op­por­tu­nity for all the play­ers in­volved. So how does coope­ti­tion work in the real world of IT so­lu­tions sell­ing? And is it a com­mon prac­tice in the MENA mar­ket?

As it turns out, coope­ti­tion has started to gain ground in the re­gional IT in­dus­try. Or­gan­i­sa­tions in the tra­di­tional IT sec­tor are now part­ner­ing with their peers in other sec­tors such as MEP, au­dio visual, vi­su­al­i­sa­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion seg­ment, MSPs, VARs, in­te­gra­tors and IT con­sul­tan­cies all in an ef­fort to pro­vide ben­e­fits to the end cus­tomer.

Whether you call it chan­nel sales, up-sell­ing, cross-sell­ing, prod­uct bundling or in­te­gra­tion, the IT in­dus­try de­pends on coope­ti­tion.

Look at it this way: ap­pli­ca­tion and in­fras­truc­ture de­liv­ery is in­creas­ingly cen­tralised. The lo­cal pres­ence and spe­cialised ex­per­tise that MSPs and VARs pro­vide be­comes es­sen­tial to serv­ing cus­tomers, whether they are in remote mar­kets or have unique busi­ness needs. Let me know how your are util­is­ing coope­ti­tion to ad­vance your re­seller busi­ness.

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